Fiorina releases TV campaign ad
Democrat had asked a general to address her as ‘Senator’ rather than as ‘Ma’am.’
GOP challenger focuses on 2009 “Ma’am” flap involving Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina launched her first television ad of the general election Thursday, playing on voters’ frustration with leaders in Washington by portraying Sen. Barbara Boxer as an arrogant politician caught up in the trappings of her office.
Fiorina’s ad hit the airwaves a week after the Democratic senator launched a $2-million ad buy skewering her rival’s record as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.
The Fiorina spot does not touch on her business background or give California voters a sense of the issues she has focused on the campaign trail, most notably the economy and federal spending.
Instead, Fiorina’s team seeks to draw attention to Boxer’s sometimes brusque manner by using footage from a well-known exchange between Boxer and Army Corps of Engineers Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh during a 2009 hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which Boxer heads.
The clip begins just after Walsh has addressed Boxer as ‘Ma’am’: “You know, do me a favor. Could you say ‘Senator’ instead of ‘Ma’am’? It’s just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title, so I’d appreciate it,” Boxer says to Walsh.
“Twenty-eight years in Washington, and Barbara Boxer works hard for a title?” Fiorina says into the camera with a quick raise of her eyebrows. “I’ll really go to work — to end the arrogance in Washington.” A close-up photograph of Boxer appears with her nameplate displayed prominently before her — above a closing slogan onscreen: “So wrong. Too long.”
Fiorina’s campaign laid the groundwork for the ad months ago, displaying the clip prominently on its anti-Boxer website.
In a year in which unemployment is in double digits and voters are impatient with the pace of the economic recovery, Fiorina’s strategists believe the moment will reinforce the Republican candidate’s message that Boxer has lost touch with the worries of average Californians.
Both Boxer and Walsh have said they have put the moment behind them.
When asked about it during her first debate with Fiorina, Boxer said she had called Walsh after the hearing to make sure she had caused no offense, and said she’d asked him to use her title because it was a “formal hearing.”
“I made the call that I should call the general ‘general.’ And it would be better if he called me by my formal title,” Boxer said during the debate at St. Mary’s College in Moraga.
In an interview earlier this year she called Walsh “a really good friend of mine” and invited Fiorina to continue hammering her over that moment “because that doesn’t speak to anything in this race which is, who really is on the side of the people?” she said, adding that Fiorina had a “horrific record” at Hewlett-Packard.
Boxer’s ad has faulted Fiorina for earning a multimillion-dollar salary, buying a yacht, and acquiring five corporate jets for HewlettPackard while laying off some 30,000 workers. (The ad does not mention that the company retired four jets in the process).
Boxer’s campaign manager, Rose Kapolczynski, brushed off Fiorina’s new spot: “Californians are fed up with the arrogance of CEOs who take multimillion-dollar bonuses and golden parachutes while the middle-class suffers. No wonder Fiorina doesn’t say one word about her own record in this ad,” she said.